Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Published: Aug 19, 2014 |Updated: Sep 11, 2023


Saving private Ryan is a movie about II World War where an american group is ordered to find and get one soldier back home from the terrain of France, since this one soldier’s all four brothers had been killed in combat. It is a interesting journey to look on the relationships between the men, and how the archetypal energies show up in this movie, switching side by side. Ultimately this movie is about courage. It is about making your dreams real.

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Genre Action, Drama
Production year 1998
Director Steven Spielberg
Male actors Tom Hanks, Tom Sizemore, Edward Burns

Saving Private Ryan

Hint: I want you to take this movie as a complete map to your inner world.

The movie starts with the scene where old Ryan goes honoring the very men that saved his life. He is deeply grateful for those men. The gift that the men gave to him. Risking their lives to get him back home. As he approaches the grave of the Captain Miller the grief and tears come up. His loved ones come closer to him. The old Ryan, a WW II veteran, reflects the war.

It is the year 1944, June the 6th, when the allies decided to land in the sand beaches of German occupied Normandy. The men are in the boats ready to land. The boats are closer to the beach. They are alive. Heart beats. It is probably the last moment of their lives. The Germans are waiting for them in their bunkers with their MG-42’s. ”Clear the ramp, 30 seconds! God be with you!”, shouts the boat driver. Cpt. Miller gives last information to his men. The boat doors open, the battle begins.

Now, imagine this. You have a need to feel safer in your school. Or you have a need for better or healthier relationship. Or you want to become closer with your father. Or you want to get out of your unhealthy drug-addicted life-style.

The landing is the moment you see your truth. Your truth might be ”I want to get out of this relationship. / I want to ask for a raise. / I need to say stop to that abusing act of that person towards me. / I don’t want to smoke anymore.” Knowing your truth, and believing it, is like standing in the boat. When you decide to live that truth, and risk the fancy old fancy life-style identity, then you’re standing at the moving boat ready to land. And living it is a battle!

The enemy (German’s with their machine guns) is time. It is time and resistance (your old thoughts and habit patterns in your head fighting you back.) [Come on, you can smoke one. / One more joint is not that bad. / You won’t find any better woman. / You’re going to be alone. / You won’t get any raise. / You’re too weak, he’s gonna abuse you even more.]

The battle starts and the men are doing their best to survive. Some men die straight in the bullets to the ramp while the doors open. Some men survive and get to shelters. Miller and his men are moving forward. A bomb explodes near Miller and Miller goes into schock. He sees the horror of this war, and he realizes that he is the responsible one for getting his men to shelter.

He sees this himself, alone yet not lonely, and a comrade asks ”What the hell do we do now, sir?!” [After the first days of your decision to make your dreams real you can end up in the darkness and do not know what to do. It’s time for asking your own inner true leader, your soul, what to do. Unless you have already touch with your soul, the leader in youself, in this movie in the form of Captain Miller, you’re able to lead yourself forward.]

In the field of battle, there is no time to think, no time for doubt, ”What do I really want?”, ”What would person X do in this kind of a situation?”, ”Can somebody do it for me?” – DANGER! Especially on that latter one. Why? Think about this. Men, do you want to make somebody else to fuck your woman for you, and make love to your woman, and you watch aside how your woman and that man are enjoying themselves? That’s what manipulators do.

Getting in touch with your soul

If you are one of those men that wonder the meaning of your ife, then this one probably sticks you. We want as humans our lives to be meaninful. We want to give the best to the world. We want to give our gifts to the world. Most deeply. If you are not interested in this, and live like dead people live, you can stop reading this review, and leave this page right now, immediately. Do me a favor.

How to get in touch with your soul if you aren’t yet? You can get in touch with your soul through pain. And when you realize this, the pain comes sensation and information instead of suffering and bad. There’s a wonderful scene in the movie Fight Club where Tyler [Wildman] leads a ritual process with the main character to reveal the pain, and the main character tries to shut down the pain by meditation: ”Meditation worked for cancer, maybe it works for this” and Tyler responds ”Stay with the pain, don’t shut this out.” In battle there is no time to go to the meditation tower, and close eyes. ”You stay here, you’re a dead man”, says Miller.

The Leadership of Miller

I say it straight. Cpt. Miller is a role model. He is compassionate, courageous and a true leader. And a true leader is there with you, helping you, understanding you, giving honest feedback, operating from his soul. Seeing others souls, he is followed. [See, Cpt. Miller and the loyalty of his men. ] , [See, Maximus, his leadership in battles and his gift/contribution.] Unlike a self-serving, narcisisstic, coward boss, operating mostly from his wounds, who likes to sit and watch how you do it, to manipulate you to do all the work alone, with his million € prize tag obsession in head. [See, Shadow King in function]

We can see the compassionate aspect of Miller in the scene where he picks up corporal Upham to his squad. Upham is stressed, ”Sir, there are a lot of Germans” [Read demons], and lets Miller know that. Miller, a man with presence, guides him. A more immature General Patton would have shamed him even more and even had slapped him.

The level of maturity of Miller we can see in how he treats his men. How he responds to the challenges, responsibilities that a role of a group leader bring. Upham, a more Lover and Magician, wants to make friends with other more Warrior guys in the group. They shame him a bit. And he’s a bit shamed, and taking blows from Mellish, who seems to be most pissed about him. Finally, Miller defends Upham.

Later, Reiben, a machoish man from the streets of Brooklyn, challenges Miller, ”So, Captain, what about you? You don’t gripe it all?”, and Miller responds teachingly, and then Reiben challenges him again, ”Let’s say you weren’t a captain, and maybe I was a major. What would you say then?”, and Miller responds with integrity and humor, and wins the respect and love of his men.

In one scene Caparzo freaks out when he sees one of his country men brutally killed. He lifts his head over the shelter, vulnerable to German snipers. Miller acknowledges this and pulls him back to the shelter. Caparzo asks: ”Why they keep shooting him like that?”, Miller answers: ”As long he has lungs, and breath, he still carries the message. We’d do the same thing.” This kind of leadership action is only available, when one has ‘eaten’ his own shadows. I felt deep love towards the character of Caparzo after saying ”No, we wouldn’t!”.

Miller’s humanity and mortality we can see when he does not always notice every single tower where a German sniper could conceal. His hands shakes while holding a compass. And his men see this. They, actually, love him even more. They trust him. Because he is human, just like they are. Miller is not trying to hide it nor trying to show off that he deserves special treat because of his nerve disorder.

He’s able to make decisions from his learned wisdom and stay with those decisions eventhough his men are commenting those, and giving advice and perspective. His tenacity of purpose behind his decisions is what makes him strong. Strong in the presence of his men and the world. He accepts the consequences (in the sand bunker Reiben rebelling about his decision and Upham defending the rules) of his decisions (to let the enemy soldier go with a bandana on his eyes) with strenght.

Remembering as a technique to your heart

How do we find our true selves? How do we find our true values? By starting to remember. By starting to remember our history. What has been good and what has been bad.

In the movie private Ryan has trouble to remember anything about his family. And Miller guides him. Remembering events with his family brings up laughter and joy in Ryan.

The archetypal dynamics in the movie

I’m very moved by the character of Jackson, the sniper. He has aim, accuracy and expertice in long distance shooting, shooting right at the goal, with composure and calmness. His buddy Reiben wonders why he can sleep so good during the war. I think one of his secrets lies in his habit of Prayer.

He finds such a good position to his gun, and body, and can shoot long distances, killing the enemy. All needed is – one shot – and good state of mind. What Prayer does when it is done correctly is disidentifying our Egos with God (True King) yet connecting with it. This brings peace, order, just and harmony to the molecyls of the our bodies. [Watch the King nature of General Maximus, and his habit of Prayer.]

We can see the nature of the imperialistic archetypal energies dealing with each other in different situations. Upham is Lover who is not yet in touch with his inner Warrior. Mellish, Caparzo, Reiben, Sgt. Horvath are more Warriors than Lovers. Cpt. Miller embodies mostly King archetype as he is well a mature Warrior, Lover and a Magician.

The conflict between the Warrior and the Lover energies is represented in one scene where Upham tries to make new friends in his new group. They are walking behind enemy lines, and his Warrior buddies are aware of that, they are alert, serious, and disciplined. The Lover is the energy of play and display. But the Lover lacks discipline. The Lover lacks boundaries.

We can see that Upham’s acts behind enemy lines (which probably were more suitable on a bar or a sunny beach) do not belong there. Caparzo disciplines him. We have to understand that those energies do not like each other, and they do not understand each other. They shame each other.

Eventhough Upham’s buddies are more Warriors it does not make them more mature. Caparzo loses his Warrior discipline, and engages the Lover in the battle situation, he starts to eat apples. He hears shooting, and runs next to the Cpt. Miller. With the curiosity of the Lover energy, Caparzo raises his head over the shelter to look what’s happening. The Germans shoot more his buddy to make sure that his buddy is dead. This, of course, from the Lover perspective, looks brutal.

Later, Caparzo sees a family suffering the horrors of the war, the hysteric father, the crying daughter. Now, Caparzo has lost contact with his squad. He’s in the Lover, and cannot hear Captain’s orders. Soon, a German sniper shoots him to the chest. He’s dead.

The Lover aspect of Upham we can see again in the bunker scene when he is befriending the enemy, giving him his buddy’s drinking water, and lecturing the Captain about the rules of war.

Later however, Upham starts to feel more Warrior, and his buddy Mellish more Lover. In one scene when the squad is walking in the fields Mellish sings and Upham walks more Warrior aware of the atmosphere.

One thing that tends to happen constantly if we do not own strong and healthy ego inner structures is that our ego is completely at the mercy of the events and the archetypal energies. When we do not have a conscious relationship with ego and the achetypal energies, our ego is unconsciously in the hands of unconscious forces, and the archetypal poles tend to possess you magnetically ‘throwing’ your ego side to side, from passive to active poles.

We can see this in Mellish when fighting against a German soldier. They’re fighting for their lives. It is a life threatening situation. Mellish pulls out his combat knife. Now, it gets more serious, dangerous, intense and life threatening. They wrestle. Soon the knife is pointing at Mellish’s chest. He is exhausted. The German is on the top. (A more comfortable situation in Brazilian Jiujitsu, eh?)

To make sure of his survival, the German starts to manipulate cleverly. And this captures Mellish’s attention. Mellish starts hoping for peace and engages the Lover energy, while losing his Warrior energy. And the knife, slowly, lands to his chest, penetrating his heart. Mellish died. German survived.

I’ve talked about the character of Upham already. Finally, however, I feel very good for him. There’s a scene where he sees Cpt. Miller (his leader, his King, to whom he looks up to) being shot. That was the last nail of his Warrior passiveness (The Masochist/The Coward). He finds courage, and steps up to make his stand on the war more honorable to himself and his squad. His disciplined Warrior energy makes all the five soldiers drop their weapons.

The similar thing happens to the German soldier that happened to Mellish before. The German soldier does not respect Upham, and his status. To take his honor back, Upham shoots the guy who shot his King, and let’s the other surrendering soldiers go.

The importance of grief – tears as a doorway to maturity

Grieving is beautiful. Grieving is releasing. Grieving is ‘bucketing’ the pain out from our veins. In this movie we can see it in a lot of scenes. Men crying. When we grieve we’re accessing the Lover.

Caparzo finds a Hitler Jugend knife and hands it over to Mellish. Soon this brings up grief inside Mellish, and Mellish weeps. He probably felt flashbacks of the horrors that his people or family have suffered in the hands of Nazi Germany.

Remembering good times brings up grief. In the movie when the squad spends the night in old church, Wade remembers with tears in his eyes times spent with his mother. We’re accessing our hearts.

Miller grieves the loss of one of his good men, Wade, behind the rocks, after a taking over a German occupied bunker.
Upham, who has not integrated Warrior fully, seeing the horror of the war, brings up strong grief in multiple situations and leads him to feeling the war, yet unable to fight.

Repressing grief leads to unprocessed grief. Unprocessed grief leads to emotional shut-down. As emotionally shut-down men we’re unable to feel compassion towards ourselves, the world and other souls. What we see constantly is our own projections, instead of the other person.

We lack the ability to feel the power dynamics of the world, and become titans serving the blind forces of destruction. Example of these in the movie we can see when two american soldiers assassinate two surrendering German soldiers, and then the other one laughs sadistically. Cpt. Miller sees his country men committing dishonorable acts, and looks it with a shameful understanding.

Before leaping into battle

A warrior has to know, exactly, what he wants. He has to have his goals – values – burned in his soul. Often those very goals come in the most terrifying situations we encounter that we call life changing experiences. Only then luckily we end up deciding what we want in our lives – read life-changing decisions.

If we really don’t know what we want, deep down, we will be fulfilling other people’s goals and could end up like Cpt. Algren in the movie The Last Samurai killing innocent defenseless native american people and suffer trauma after it. A true warrior must be willing to be abandoned, alone, even if his inferiors and superiors are going fight a sick battle.

The warrior needs the help of the magician. The magician aspect makes the warrior a such master over his weaponry. This means once you have the goal, let’s say durable happiness, for instance, permanently in your consciousness, the job of the magician is to tell the warrior how to get there. You have to plan situations, evaluate the risks, costs of effort – ”What is the worst thing that can happen to me?”, then to take action.

There’s an excellently humorous movie about how to plan your days, Edge of Tomorrow, with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. (From that I got the very inspiration that I needed for this topic).You may need the help of the mature men in this world, who are fighting the same war as you, like Captain Miller goes to get info of what to do next from his superior after successful operation of landing.

Study your enemy – those self-shaming demons that are holding the keys to your door. Get specific. Only when you know your enemy, you can fight against it. You can lead your team to victory, when you are aware of your enemy. Captain Miller has done his homework as a Captain to land and lead his team. He has studied tactics, and strategy. He sees up in the hill a German machine gun position and leads his team, step by step, to victory.

The fact is that values are won by battle. If there is no battle, there is no values. A mature warrior knows his values and limitations unlike the Hero who takes unnecessary risks everywhere without any idea of his limitations and what he deeply wants. A Warrior has strategic planning, the Hero is there only to show off how tough he is.

Your purpose is to be found in the presence of other men or in solitude.

When the squad leaded by Miller finds Ryan, and Miller engages to tell him that he and his squad came to get him back home out of the horrors and dangers of the war, Ryan is reluctant with this offer. He receives Miller’s message, with love, and understanding, but he feels deep in his heart to fight the battle with his fellow brothers. All the other brothers of him died in the battle. He feels that even though it would be an wonderful offer, caused by the love and work of other men, and his mother, he wants to give his gift to the men and to the world, because that’s is the most honorable deed he can ever do in his life.

Reiben shouts: ”Hey asshole, two our guys already died trying to find you, alright?”, Ryan listens, and feels this. He asks their names to feel more trust in them. This makes his heart melt. And Miller, like a mature King, is with him. Now, an lovely and comfortable idea of going home to mother and leaving the war sounds way too easy ticket out of life to Ryan, and his deepest heart desire is to stay with his brothers. It is his honor. Cpt. Miller accepts this and understands this.

Solitude is another way to get in touch with your purpose, and soul. To become a true leader is to become alone – one. Then one has to accept the responsibilities and consequences that his mission carry. To be a true leader is to be alone yet not feeling lonely.

As Poet David Whyte writes in his poem, Everything Is Waiting For You, ”To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings”. Miller realizes his mission in a sunlight in the bomb shock scenes (one in the beginning of the movie, and later one in the end of the movie.) He accepts his responsibilities in the war.


You can really learn a lot from these movies if you have a desire to look and feel what the movie wants to tell the audience. Be awake.

Know your purpose, and be willing to give up everything else in your life to live your purpose. That is where your core is released from stress.

Ryan in his latter days, still feels, the other men’s love. He visits the graves of his fellow men and honors the very men that were saving his life. It is his honor to go and remember those good things that he and his men have done and the times spent with his fellow men.

Powerful ideas from Saving Private Ryan

  • We cannot plan properly anything nor be truly successful long term as long as we are slaves to the unconscious and the archetypal energies.
  • ”Displace!” - Be ready to change your plans in split seconds. (Like in the movie the German tanks did not take the bait.) Change your apartment, if you have to, change your job if you have to, change your perspective, if you are not strong enough in the face of your enemy. [Dragons.] Leave your country, if you have to, and learn a new language.
  • Be spontanious and creative. - Miller suggests his fellow men to create a sticky bombs against German tanks, and Ryan guides Miller to use Mortar bombs as hand grenades.
  • Decision making is already battling. Battling against the voices in head - when you are making a bigger decision in life, you may have other identities which are commenting on your determination to make that right decision (Like Miller receives comments from his men before taking out the German occupied bunker.) Later, one of your old identities may die, (Medic Wade died) and you may grief them. Learn to stay with your decisions. If you're making no decisions upon your life, and living passively, you die very soon in the battlefield to the 'bullets'.
  • One of the hallmarks of the mature man is the awareness and knowing when to access these four different achetypal energies and yet not be identified with but inspired about them and connected to them. To get the ”keys” to this, get in touch with your inner Magician. He will expose you some stuff that will make you aware – awake! An initiation supported by Elders can help you in this process.
  • Be a student not a blind follower. There's a scene in the movie where Miller hears the German war propaganda, ”The Statue Of Liberty ist kaputt.” which is meant to be a motivator for the German soldiers to keep fighting, a lost battle. How did millions of people in II World War blindly trust the state and the outer systems of justice and get like puppies to the death camps without fighting back? Ignorance is not a bliss, as some dead people like to say.
  • Start approaching things with your truth. Start approaching the very people with your truth. Stay with your truth. Live your truth. Protect your truth. Believe in your truth. [Happiness] There is a saying, 'Truth sets you free'. You might feel that one when you're in touch with it.
  • Have a clear goal, and a clear foundation to where base your decisions. Miller had a goal to get back with his wife. In a larger scale he had also a transpersonal goal – to win the war. (Fight the good fight.) He had a foundation which he puts like this: ”You see, when you end up killing one of your men, you tell yourself it happened so you could save the lives of two or three or 10 others. Maybe a hundred others. Do you know how many men I've lost under my command? 94. But that means I've saved the lives of 10 times that many, doesn't it? Maybe even 20, right? 20 times as many? And that how simple it is. That's how you...That's how you rationalise making the choice between the mission and the men.”
  • Trust me, believe me, when you are living your purpose and be in touch with it – you become instantly more present, alive and awake, so that the natural humor of life arises as it arosed between the Miller's squad in some scenes. That is the time when your surroundings, men and women, and all the other world, feel your presence, and are honored being around you. The men inevitably respect your presence and look at you with a serious, but lovingly respecting eye (just like Maximus from the movie Gladiator when he walks through his men). The women will be attracted to you, looking at you with curious eyes.
  • Learning to be a true leader means learning to enjoy solitude.
  • Receive the love that other men have for you. Be grateful of the work that men have done for you – they have built houses for you, they have invented Internet for you, they have studied for you. As Cpt. Miller states to Ryan, ”Earn this.” Realize those gifts.
  • Meditation can help you to stay calm and give perspective, but too much is too much. In battle there's is no time to sit and close eyes. ( I like meditating with my eyes open, sitting in the chair, sofa, or at the park's bench.)
  • The war is constant. The war takes days, years, lifetimes. Who knows how long. Fighting the good fight. Fighting the good battles. Protecting the very authentic values. Once you have true happiness, you must be able to protect it. As Aurelius responds in the movie Gladiator, ”There's always someone left to fight”, to the words of Maximus, ”There's no one left to fight, sire”

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